Doctor Fate emerged from the doorless Tower of Fate to usher his fallen friends inside. As they entered, the Atom said, “Now you decided to come out! What were you doing when those creeps were trashing us? Polishing your helmet?”
“I know your words come from the concern you feel for your bride and Ted Grant, so I excuse your tone,” said Fate. “I could not aid you due to the fact that I was in deep meditation with the Orb of Nabu. I sought successfully to determine the source of the dark magic suddenly so active upon this mortal plane.”
Green Lantern nodded. “Sure, Fate! We trust you completely, old pal. Al didn’t mean what he said.”
The Atom smiled ruefully. “Yeah, sorry, Fate. It’s like you said. I’m worried about poor Mary, Joan, Ted, and the rest. Plus, knowing that madman the Spirit King has another of my buddies is sickening me. After what he did to Terry, I’ve always wanted to get my atomic fists on him!” He glanced at the Flash next to him, who remained silent but nodded his agreement; he would never forget how the Spirit King had used his body to kill Terry Sloane, alias his fellow JSAer Mister Terrific.
Hawkman put his arm on the Atom’s shoulder and said, “So do we all. Listen to my story.”
Lagra spoke up from beside the winged wonder. “Perhaps I should begin.”
“No. It is best that we begin at the start of this dark tale, which only I can reveal through the medium of the mystic Orb of Nabu,” began Fate.
“In the legends of Babylon, a dark and evil being named Anshar was found as the embodiment of corruption and evil — darkness, if you will,” said Doctor Fate. “This being in feminine form was called Ratri in India and was also called Hiisi by the people of Finland. In Egypt, he was–”
“Set!” interrupted Hawkman. “He was the evil shadowy murderer called Set. His minion was Hath-Set — my old foe who actually killed me when I was known as Khufu. You remember him, no doubt?”
“Well, this being wrought much harm in many cultures and under many names,” continued Fate. “He met his first major defeat at the hands of a group called the Seven in 1567 B.C. in the Egypt known so well by Carter Hall and his friend, Lane Grange.”
“I did not recall much of this myself from my dreams,” said Hawkman. “Lane, here, filled me in. He regained memories of that past life when he and I were allies recently. It seems I aided Lane when he was called Lagra, along with an old wizard who must have been Nabu himself! Along with four others, we tracked him down and defeated him, or so we thought. I now know that Hath-Set killed me as revenge for what I did to his master.”
“True,” said Doctor Fate, knowing of Nabu’s history. “This evil being arose again in the next century, only to be driven off by a multitalented Arabian hero. His next attempt to manifest on our world occurred when the Starheart fell to China around the first century, B.C.”
“That must explain that Orana witch’s comment about their master’s fear of the Green Flame,” said Green Lantern.
“True enough,” said Fate. “For when he lost his material form in old Egypt at the hands of the Seven, he could only appear in shadow form. Thus, the Arabian prince bested him. And when the Starheart fell and was claimed by a Chinese man named Chang, all this being could do was influence the superstitious natives to attack him. They killed Chang, but the power flamed for death, and all of them were no more. This effectively cut off any tie the Shadow Fiend had to Earth until the Crisis on Infinite Earths. When the Anti-Monitor’s shadow demons stirred, so did the dormant being I speak of. He awoke and gathered his forces. Recall how prior to our involvement with the Crisis on our world, Orana was plucked from our midst, as was Dr. Louisa Soliz from prior to Doctor Mid-Nite’s wedding. They were gathered along with other evil souls to serve this mad being.”
“So… this Shadow Fiend brought back Spirit King to work for him? Why’d he go after Ted?” asked the Atom.
“I suspect it was a case of guilt by association,” said Green Lantern. “That is, Wildcat was used to attack you specifically. Plus, Mary was enslaved by those cursed black diamonds.”
“I guess he is after me, then!” said Atom. “He took Mary and Ted to punish me!”
“Well, I fear he seeks to punish you and Wildcat, among others, because of your close ties to his real target — Terry Sloane,” said Doctor Fate. “For it was Mister Terrific’s past life embodiment, or ancestor, that was the Arabian prince who drove off this entity. This past life was not known to Sloane. Indeed, I question whether it was not Terry himself, somehow transported to the past, who drove off the shadows. But for this action the hero’s allies suffer, as you have shown yourself.”
“So why did he take over Myra and the rest?” asked Doctor Mid-Nite.
“Myra was chosen out of the spite his servant Niteshade has for her,” said Fate. “I assume Orana expects to get Diana in return for her part in this. As for Lois and Joan, I assume they were chosen merely to occupy you two as their husbands and two of the world’s most experienced heroes.”
“You mean Molly was taken over because the Green Flame I use hurt this clown eons ago?” shouted Green Lantern.
“We should be freeing them now!” said Superman. “That’s why we all came to you, Doctor Fate!”
“They were indeed bait, but they have served their purpose and are now in the lair of the Shadow Fiend,” declared Fate.
“We must rescue them!” demanded Superman. “Can you take us there?”
“When it is time I shall do so, but not yet,” said Doctor Fate. “In order to save your loved ones and drive this monster back into the ebon night from which it was spawned, we must reassemble those who first triumphed over it. We must quest for the heirs of the Seven!”
“The heirs of the Seven?” repeated the Atom. “From what you’ve said, then Lagra, Hawk, and you would be three of that little coffee klatch.”
“Perhaps I would be a fourth?” asked Alan Scott.
“No. Your flame was not the initial cause of the defeat of darkness,” said Doctor Fate. “Nor was Mister Terrific among those who bested him at first. It was because of later efforts related to you and Sloane that your loved ones were targeted.”
“Wait a minute!” shouted the Atom. “Don’t you guys see? Terry has a widow, you know — Lysette Sloane! She is very weak now due to age, but she is alive! I’ve got to go to her and keep her safe, if it’s not too late!”
“Well thought out,” offered Fate. “Perhaps that is wise. I do not wish to allow our valiant comrade’s mate to suffer for his nobility.”
“And Diana,” said Doctor Mid-Nite. “Someone should warn her about that deluded Orana.”
“We’ve done this often enough,” said the Flash. “Let’s divide and conquer!”
“The symbol of the ankh shall guide you to locate the remaining four who will comprise the Seven,” said Fate. “We shall meet again here and go to battle the Shadow Fiend on his chosen ground.”
“Wait! What about Johnny Thunder on his honeymoon, or Red Robin and the others?” asked Superman. (*) “Are their loved ones in danger as Joan and Lois are?”
[(*) Editor’s note: See Johnny Thunder: Hectic Honeymoon.]
“I sense they are in no peril from this foe,” Fate assured them. “Perhaps we are in luck, and his evil is yet but newly reborn.”
The members of the Justice Society parted and hurried off as they had done for more than forty-five years.
Dr. Charles McNider gazed with admiration on the healthiest pregnant woman he had ever treated. She was Diana Trevor, alias Wonder Woman, and her Amazonian physique was impressive at any time. She was now pregnant, although her modified costume was the only sign of her condition that any eye less keenly trained than McNider’s could detect. She now wore a short skirt split at each hip, like those worn by Greeks of old.
“Charles, I assure you that I am more than capable of helping you and the boys find these four mysterious members of the Seven,” said the raven-haired beauty. “For that matter, if Orana is still as determined to wear my costume and bear my title as you say, then she’ll be coming for me sooner or later, anyway!”
“Thank you, Diana,” said Charles. “I won’t make the mistake Johnny made all those years old when he happily suggested that you would make a ‘swell secretary.’ If you’re willing to lend a hand… or bracelet or lasso to the cause, then this doctor won’t quibble.”
Diana smiled. “Johnny meant that in his usual sweet manner. Still, I did often have the urge to go toss a car around while you boys raced off leaving me behind to take notes back then.”
“You know the male chauvinist attitude of that era was to blame,” he said. “It’s funny how we did just make you, probably our strongest member, our girl Friday.”
The old friends were soon soaring skyward in Wonder Woman’s invisible plane. To her surprise, the glowing ankh symbol led her toward very familiar surroundings. The Greek isles stretched beneath their clear-floored plane.
“By Hera,” she said. “We’re being led right to my old neighborhood, so to speak. One of these famous Seven must live there.”
They landed and faced an imposing structure. “I recall that my last visit to Greece came back when we battled the New Olympians and Mars himself,” said Doctor Mid-Nite. (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See Justice Society of America: Times Past, 1947: The New Olympians.]
“Let us hope his bloody hand is not mixed up in this business, although I assume from what you told me, that this Shadow Fiend had some Greek name, too — perhaps Hecate,” she offered.
Doctor Mid-Nite gazed through the darkness and frowned. “Diana, that bright glow from within the temple — do you see it?”
Wonder Woman nodded. “I do, at that. Let’s consider it as if they chose to leave a light in the window for us.”
She walked confidently across the field, and Doctor Mid-Nite followed. Her valor and unswerving assurance eased his own misgivings as he worried about his new bride, Myra. Unlike Johnny and Daisy Thunder, Charles and Myra McNider had not been able to have a long honeymoon. We’ll save her, he thought. Got to keep hope in mind and not let the emotional darkness cloud me either.
They entered and marveled at the radiant light that filled the old temple. A woman with golden curls that cascaded to her hips lounged on a divan. She was stunning, and Diana smiled with awe. “Eos — dawn’s goddess!” she breathed with wonder.
“No, my child,” she replied. “I am Tithonia — the daughter of Eos — dawn’s child, not dawn herself.”
“We seek you, or someone here, who was one of a group called the Seven,” said Doctor Mid-Nite.
She smiled and said, “I am the one you seek. I am a natural foe of the darkness.”
Doctor Mid-Nite and Wonder Woman watched as the blonde woman in filmy pink rose from her divan and explained her past. “My parents were Eos and Tithomus, her lover. I have her light powers and her hatred for the dark things. I did ally myself with others long ago to fight the coming of the darkness.”
“I guess you’re needed again,” said Mid-Nite. “This Shadow Fiend is back, and it has my wife! Will you help us battle him?”
“Your love for the woman is strong and has been within you for much too long without expression,” said Tithonia. “I shall gladly aid one with such a noble heart.”
“Perhaps you won’t live long enough to do so!” hissed a shadowy form that crept within the temple.
“Shadow demons, like from the Crisis!” gasped Wonder Woman as she pulled loose her golden lasso and charged forward for battle.
Doctor Mid-Nite knew his tranquilizer patch and blackout bombs could do little good against such creatures, and he cursed his own helplessness. As the shadow forms drew closer from all sides, he thought desperately of a way to help the women.
Wonder Woman jumped upward and swung across the room with her lasso. She dropped down in front of the shadow demons and spun her gleaming lasso in their midst. They shrieked and drew back in pain. “The lasso’s purity burns them with the realization that they are hallow and empty without love and light!” she said as she skillfully spun the whirling golden loop, herding them away from Mid-Nite.
Tithonia gestured, and lightbeams shattered the shadowy creatures with ease. She walked happily among them, seemingly oblivious to her danger as one rose up behind her.
Doctor Mid-Nite hurled himself into her and pushed her to safety, inches away from the attacking monster.
“You saved me from the icy touch of death,” cooed the blonde.
“That’s what I do,” said Doctor Mid-Nite, smiling.
Wonder Woman spun the rope out again and again until they were driven away. Then her magic lasso was snagged on something without, and as she tugged on it, it was ripped free of her grasp. “I didn’t expect the creatures to be able to touch the lasso!” she said as she walked forward.
The magic lasso then snaked over her arm and closed tightly. “I believe I’m winning now!” said a female voice as Orana stepped from the darkness holding it.
Wonder Woman remained bound by the rope, but Doctor Mid-Nite had no such limitation. He tossed his blackout bomb and slipped closer to Orana.
She looked at his cloud of night with disdain. “I fear nothing from the dark, little man,” she said with a toss of her red-gold curls.
Wonder Woman kicked her in the side and pulled back her rope. “Good work, Mid-Nite,” she said. “If you don’t give an order, then anyone bound by the magic lasso is free to act, you upstart!” She wrestled across the floor with Orana as the blackout bomb enveloped the room.
Diana was holding her own with Orana as they wrestled back and forth. “You must remember that I was not allowed in the contest that earned you your little costume,” said the rogue Amazon. “I was ill. I am your superior, and this will prove it.”
“I regret your delusions, but I owe you for the time you teamed up with Doctor Poison and the rest on Gudra’s little Revenge Squad,” said Wonder Woman.
Then a silky voice called out to McNider, “Doctor Mid-Nite, I have come to claim you!” Niteshade walked into view, and another fight began.
“Louisa, I won’t allow your illness to stop me from saving Myra,” said Mid-Nite. “She is now and always will be my one true love.”
Niteshade, alias Dr. Louisa Soliz, scowled. “I think you’ll come around when you see her corpse!” She swung a right hook that barely missed his chin.
Mid-Nite blocked a second punch and caught her wrist. “I don’t like doing this to a woman I think of as a friend yet,” he said. “You need therapy, not bruises.”
She kneed him below the belt and said, “You need me!” He fell back and slipped his hand down to grasp his laser scalpel.
Niteshade gripped him around the neck and clutched a particular spot. “You’ll pass out soon if I keep the pressure on this spot,” she said, ranting. “The darkness will make you mine!”
Doctor Mid-Nite lifted the scalpel and switched the bright light on directly at her lens-shielded eyes. She blinked and drew back from the sudden change of light. He took that chance to belt her.
Niteshade fell flat, and as Mid-Nite bent over to check his former colleague’s vitals, she stuck a thin needle in his arm; he winced and passed out. She smiled and stroked his chin.
Tithonia did not hesitate to enter the fight. She ran across the temple floor and choked in sudden pain. “My old foe returns,” she gasped. An inky trail of black vapor clouded her nose and mouth, and she knew no more.
Wonder Woman ducked a high kick from Orana and caught her leg as she spun back with another. Orana launched herself up and connected with a third sweeping kick, and Diana dropped her.
Then a sudden blow to her back left her stunned, and the rush of inky gasses around her put her to sleep.